Merkley: Vote on energy, health care ‘a big day for America’

Oregon Democrat speaks up for plan that passed Senate,
awaits approval by U.S. House and signature by Biden.

Statement by U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., on Senate
passage Sunday, Aug. 7, of the Inflation Reduction Act

“Today is a big day for America. For the first time,
the U.S. Senate has passed major legislation to remake our energy system — and
to do so while also lowering health care costs and creating good-paying,
family-wage jobs, all paid for by ensuring billionaires and big corporations
pay their fair share in taxes.

“We’re taking on Big Pharma to lower drug prices. This
bill starts the process of negotiating prescription drug prices and caps
out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions at $2,000 a year for seniors on Medicare.
Additionally, it helps middle class families get affordable insurance coverage
by extending key tax credits and preventing big cost increases that would have hit
families this fall. This bill is a big win for affordable health care, and we
need to keep building on it. American taxpayers contribute more than the
citizens of any other nation in the world to research and development of drugs.
They deserve the best prices in the world, not the worst.

“We’re going to transition
to clean energy and create high-quality union jobs while we do it. Year after
year, I’ve seen my home state of Oregon and other states across the West
decimated by mega wildfires and record droughts. In other parts of the country,
we’ve seen superstorms, sea rise and unprecedented flooding. Climate chaos is
here, and we have to act now to save lives and livelihoods from catastrophe.
This bill is the most significant piece of climate legislation ever passed
through the U.S. Senate and finally puts us on a path to transition to clean
and renewable energy. What’s more, this bill borrows from the strategy I laid
out in my Good Jobs for 21st Century Energy Act to juice the creation of good,
family-wage jobs as we’re transitioning to a greener future. This bill is a
huge investment in a Made in America, union future for renewable energy in the
United States. The bill is not perfect, and I particularly regret parts of it
that encourage more climate-killing oil and gas infrastructure and that leave
frontline communities vulnerable to the ensuing impacts. But overall, the bill
does a lot to drive a fast transition from fossil to renewable energy, and that
is a massive stride in the right direction.

“We’re taking on big corporations to finally deliver
tax fairness for working Americans. Many huge corporations like Amazon pay
little to no federal taxes. That’s outrageous. It’s time for big corporations
who’ve benefited from Americans’ investments in education, infrastructure,
research and so much more to pay their fair share. The 15% minimum corporate
tax in the Inflation Reduction Act stops big corporations from exploiting
loopholes to evade taxes, and it taxes stock buybacks to incentivize companies
to invest in workers and expansion — not just lining the pockets of CEOs and
shareholders. This means that we can pay for historic climate investments without
raising taxes by a single dime on working Americans — and to do it all while
reducing the deficit by $300 billion to help bring down inflation. This is
economic justice for real American families who are suffering.

“It’s been a long road to get here — and our work most
certainly doesn’t stop here. But today, Senate Democrats have delivered in a
big way for the American people. In future years, I hope that we will be able
to look back and see today’s vote as a major inflection point on climate
action, both here in the United States and globally. Let’s keep moving forward
and build on this work by putting our country on an emergency footing to combat
the climate crisis — and let’s keep working to bring costs down for consumers,
put workers over big corporations and deliver a better future for all.”